When all of the leaves fall off the trees and the weather gets colder each day, we know it is time to start getting prepared for the Winter season ahead. There are a lot of things to think about when preparing for the winter such as winterizing your fleet, but have you thought about how the winter will affect your fleet’s fuel economy? We’ve gathered some important factors to consider.
- Air Temperature
There are several winter weather conditions that need consideration. When their air temperatures drop, it will affect the air pressure in your tires. For every 10 degrees the temperature drops, tires can lose between 1-2 psi. Driving on under-inflated tires can cause issues with tractor trailer fuel economy and generate more friction, which leads to heat and a potential blowout.
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Pro Tip: Monitoring tire pressure should already be part of regular maintenance checks, but during the winter months, checking inflation pressure before each shift can help ensure truck tires are running at their best. According to TMC, consistent driving on 20% under-inflated tires can increase tread-wear by 25%, reducing their lifetime by 30%, and driving on under-inflated tires of just 10 PSI can reduce fuel economy by 1%
- Headwind and Crosswind
We all have experienced those cold winter winds. These headwinds and crosswinds have a negative impact on a truck, specifically causing aerodynamic drag. For every 10 mph of headwind or crosswind, fuel efficiency can be reduced by as much as 13%!
- Road Conditions
Road conditions in the winter can be brutal. The roads are wet with ice, slush, snow, and to combat these, the roads are salted adding more debris to the road. To offset the increased rolling resistance the tires will be pushing aside the precipitation, and the truck engine will have to work harder. About 30-40% of fuel required to move a truck down the highway is spent just on overcoming rolling resistance.
Pro Tip: Having added features on a truck such as fairings can help aid in reducing aerodynamic drag and rolling resistance all year, not just during the winter months.
In the winter, idling time can increase because drivers are letting their cabs run to keep the heat on so they are warm. Choosing to do this can negatively impact fuel consumption. A diesel engine running at 1000 RPM can consume up to one gallon of fuel per hour, which can decrease fuel efficiency by 1%.
Pro Tip: The EPA SmartWay suggests the use of fuel-fired heaters, battery-based HVAC systems, auxiliary power units, thermal storage systems, and shore power to the cab warm during the winter months. Driving for a few minutes is the most efficient way to warm the engine drivetrain and the cabin.
WINTER BLEND DIESEL FUEL
Winter blend diesel fuel is a common way to keep fuel from gelling. Winter blend contains additives to lower the temperature at which it will gel, keeping the truck on the road. Due to the additives changing the properties of the fuel, there is an energy reduction of up to 3%, which equates to .5-.75 loss in MPG.
Pro Tip: It is important to keep the fuel tank full during the winter months. Tanks that are less than half full have a greater risk of gelling or freezing.